Whew! Sorry about that, folks. Last week was a heckuva beast so I didn’t wind up getting to post all that much. Or at all, other than the podcast. I’m hoping that I’ll have more this week, especially considering that after this week, posts will be rather infrequent for the next two months due to grad school. Anyhow, enough about me; on to the topic!
Today I thought I’d talk a little about charms. The problem with talking about charms, though, is that it’s hard to define just what a “charm” is. For some, they’re spoken words used along with other spell components to get results. Others may take the view that charms are talismans or magical objects, usually fairly small, which are carried like a portable personal spell. Some think of them as written spells, others mainly include love spells in this category, and some simply think of “charm” as another word for spells.
For my own purposes, though, I’m going to define “charm” thusly: A spell composed of words, spoken or written. There, now that’s settled. So now we have the question, what’s so special about charms? Well, for one thing, they’re usually simple. Simple enough, in fact, that ordinary folk who might not otherwise engage in magical practice often work a charm without giving it a second thought. There are lots of these kinds of little workings to be found throughout the various New World magical systems, but here are a few of my favorites:
Finding Lost Objects
St. Anthony Prayer (Catholic, Strega, Saint-based Hoodoo, Curanderismo)
This prayer is used when an item (or sometimes person) is lost and you need to find it in a hurry. The first version is slightly formal (though not nearly so formal as the prayer on his prayer card). From the Lucky Mojo site:
St. Anthony, St. Anthony
Please come down
Something is lost
And can’t be found
My own family used a variant of this which was much more informal:
Help me find
What can’t be found
I always repeat the prayer at least once out loud and then under my breath as I search for the missing item. I’d say I have about a 75-80% success rate with this one. I do know that traditionally if you find your missing item, you should give to the poor in St. Anthony’s name (a practice called “St. Anthony’s Bread”). This can be as simple as writing “Thank you St. Anthony!” on the edge of a dollar bill and giving it to a homeless person (or leaving it in a poorbox collection of some kind).
Halting a Thief
Three Lilies Charm ( Pow-wow)
This one comes from John George Hohman’s Long Lost Friend. I’ve had no reason to use it yet, thankfully, but I like the poetry of this one (or at least, I think it sounds very poetic). The portions where you see the “+++” symbols indicate making the sign of the cross in the air with your hand as part of the charm:
A GOOD CHARM AGAINST THIEVES.
There are three lilies standing upon the grave of the Lord our God; the first one is the courage of God, the other is the blood of God, and the third one is the will of God. Stand still, thief! No more than Jesus Christ stepped down from the cross, no more shalt thou move from this spot; this I command thee by the four evangelists and elements of heaven, there in the river, or in the shot, or in the judgment, or in the sight. Thus I conjure you by the last judgment to stand still and not to move, until I see all the stars in heaven and the sun rises again. Thus I stop by running and jumping and command it in the name of + + +. Amen.
This must be repeated three times.
INRI Cross (Pow-wow, Hoodoo, Mountain Magic, most folk magical systems)
This one can again be found in Hohman’s book, as well as many other magical texts. It’s a written charm, primarily used against harmful magic directed against you, as well as fire. There are plenty of ways to use this charm, from marking it in a magical oil or water on your door to putting it on a small piece of paper and hiding it in the lintel of your doorframe. It can also be carried with you for magical protection. This is the version from Hohman:
A CHARM TO BE CARRIED ABOUT THE PERSON
Carry these words about you, and nothing can hit you: Ananiah, Azariah, and Missel, blessed be the Lord, for he has redeemed us from hell, and has saved us from death, and he has redeemed us out of the fiery furnace and has preserved us even in the midst of the fire; in the same manner may it please him the Lord that there be no fire.
N I R
The simple form of this is to just draw out that last bit, rather than worrying about the prayer before it, but the prayer can also be a powerful addition to the charm.
SATOR Square (Pow-wow, Hoodoo, Mountain Magic, Curanderismo, most folk magical systems)
Another powerful and widely found magical charm, the SATOR square is written out and used much like the INRI cross:
These words are written out (try to make them as “square” as you can) and again posted or carried to protect you from harm, theft, fire, and any number of other ills.
St. Michael the Archangel (Catholic, Strega, Saint-based Hoodoo, Curanderismo)
This is a common prayer among Catholics facing spiritual struggles, and it’s made its way into magical practice, too. In the film The Gangs of New York, a priest (played by Liam Neeson) recites this prayer before leading his band of Irish immigrants into battle with another gang. It’s particularly effective if done in conjunction with the St. Michael medal or candle, but I think you can use it on its own as well. The main target of this protective charm is evil—if you feel beleaguered by any harmful person or force (and you don’t have a problem invoking this particular spirit), this is a very potent way to deflect that trouble:
Great Archangel Michael Archangel, defend us in battle,
be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the
May God rebuke our enemies, we humbly pray; and
do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of
God, thrust into Hell the Adversary and all other evil
spirits who prowl about the world for the ruin of
I like to use all of these protective charms, though the SATOR square is my favorite. I generally renew these charms once per year in conjunction with a few other key rituals (and a particular holiday, which I’ll get to eventually).
Well, I’m not quite through with charms yet, but there is plenty here to digest, so I’ll save the rest of them for another day. Thank you all for being patient, and for being such a wonderful readership! I’ll be trying to catch up with blog responses and emails over the next day or two, so don’t hesitate to keep up the fantastic comments!
Thanks for reading!